What We’re Reading #4: Ruth Dawkins
Welcome to our new blog series, What We’re Reading. Each blog features a member of the Tasmanian Writers Centre team, shedding light on their literary journey by giving you a taste of the story they’ve welcomed into their lives.
I’m such an enthusiastic reader (or perhaps just such a loser, it depends on your perspective…) that I keep a reading notebook. In the front I keep track of books that I’ve seen reviewed or had recommended to me by a friend. In the back I keep a list of the books I’ve actually read. My seven-year-old son has recently commandeered the middle pages to write his own wish-list, which I’ll be passing onto Santa as we get a little closer to Christmas.
One benefit of the book is that it has made me less of an impulsive buyer. When we lived in the United Kingdom, I used to be a sucker for Waterstones 3 for 2 offers, but would often end up with piles of unread or unloved books. Now I don’t buy anything unless I’ve made a note that I really want it.
The other benefit is that I can see if I’m stuck in a reading rut. Last year when I looked back there were an awful lot of novels by British and American men. That in itself isn’t a bad thing – some of them were excellent – but it was clear I needed to expand my horizons a bit.
This year I’ve attempted to redress the balance by reading a lot more writers from the rest of the world, and a lot more women.
Recent favourites have included The Paper House by Anna Spargo-Ryan, Purple Hibiscus by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, The Muse by Jessie Burton, The Outrun by Amy Liptrot and The Lonely City by Olivia Laing. I like books with a strong sense of place, and all five of them have that.
The next five books in my pile are The Sound of One Hand Clapping by Richard Flanagan, A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride, The Hate Race by Maxine Beneba Clarke, Dirt Music by Tim Winton and Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue.
After that, there’s a list of several hundred more than I want to read. Perhaps I’ll pass that along to Santa too.